Players don't blame Clouston

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON — You have to wonder if history is going to repeat for the Senators.

An ugly loss to the Capitals on a Sunday afternoon on Feb. 1, 2009, cost Craig Hartsburg his job as coach of the Senators and Cory Clouston was brought up from Binghamton as his replacement.

The heat has been on Clouston for a while and calls for his job are only going to get louder after Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Capitals.

But, the Senators aren’t going to blame the coach for a season that has gone so horribly wrong even as they know questions are going to be raised about Clouston’s future after they blew this one.

“That first goal against (by Brooks Laich), I passed it out to (Daniel Alfredsson), it bounced over his stick and it’s in the back of the net. Does that have anything to do with coaching?” asked defenceman Chris Phillips, who faced the media after his gaffe.

“I don’t think so. It’s part of the game. If you look at the gameplan, we’re all on the same page. We all know what to do. We just haven’t been executing. You look at some of the chances we’ve had when other teams are making mistakes, and we’re not capitalizing. To pin that on coaching, I don’t think is very fair.”

We’ll find out if GM Bryan Murray feels the same way.

GETTING READY

W Jarrko Ruutu has no illusions. He knows his days are possibly numbered.

There haven’t been any contract discussions between Murray and Ruutu’s agent, Don Baizley. There likely won’t be before the Senators find him a new home before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

The 35-year-old pest — one of the NHL’s most-hated players — will be dispatched elsewhere before the deadline in exchange for a draft pick to get his $1.3 million US off the books.

“I’m an Ottawa Senator. I want to be an Ottawa Senator, but there’s things that I can’t control,” said Ruutu, signed as a UFA in 2008. “If trades happen, it’s out of my control and I’m going to have to live with it.

“I don’t think anything else. I play hard. I understand they can trade anybody if you look at the big picture. It’s not that it bothers me or I think of it, but it’s realistic.

“Anybody can see when guys aren’t playing well enough or to their capabilities, there will be changes. Bryan came out and said that.”

The Kings and Sharks, both struggling, are looking to bulk up to try to get into the playoffs. The Penguins would certainly look at the possibility of bringing Ruutu back as well. He was a contributor for them.

BINGO SHUFFLE

The Senators called up G Mike Brodeur to dress as the backup Sunday. They don’t want 19-year-old G Robin Lehner sitting on the bench in Ottawa when he has the chance to play in Binghamton ... It’s time to send C Corey Locke back to Bingo: He played a total of 7:37 on Sunday on a line with Ruutu and Peter Regin. Locke had two shifts in the third.

IN THE CREASE

There’s no progress on the health of Pascal Leclaire. The injury-riddled Senators goaltender isn’t any better, but he’s not any worse. Doctors are putting him through tests to decide what’s next for his hip, groin and back issue that’s kept him out for a month.

Surgery hasn’t been ruled out because rest doesn’t seem to be doing the injury any good.

“There’s no change,” said coach Cory Clouston before Sunday’s game. “He’s as disappointed and frustrated as anyone.

“I just don’t know where he’s at right now. We still feel he’s going to play again this year. When that’s going to be, I’m not sure.”

C'EST WHAT?

“Yeah, we’ll have one,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, when asked before the game which goaltender was going to make the start.

THINGS I THINK I THINK

The Senators are 1-8 with C Jason Spezza out of the lineup and the little offence they did have has now completely dried up. Sunday was the 17th time this season they’ve been held to one goal or less.

“He does a lot of little things that go unnoticed. He’s very good on the faceoffs (and) he’s on the penalty kill. He plays some valuable minutes,” said coach Cory Clouston.

“We’ve got to make sure we understand the value of a Jason in this organization. He’s definitely been missed. We don’t want to use that as an excuse.” ... The Senators had no shots on a second-period power play. Pathetic ... Linesman Derek Nansen showed some toughness. He took a Karl Alzner shot off the leg in the second and got right back up ... D Erik Karlsson might be an all-star, but he’s got to clean up his act. He wasn’t able to retrieve a puck along the boards and it resulted in Alex Ovechkin getting a chance alone in front. Fortunately, C Mike Fisher blocked the shot ... The Senators opted to make D Matt Carkner a healthy scratch. While the faithful want D Filip Kuba to be scratched, the Sens are going to try to move him at the Feb. 28 deadline. They have to keep him playing if someone is going to take a chance on Kuba, who has a year left on his $3.7 million US contract.


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